Local News

Jan 16, 2014 6:52 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

SM Police searching for man groping women on popular walking trail

The Santa Maria Police Department is looking for a man reportedly groping women near Preisker Park and they say his behavior has escalated.

Police say there have been several reports of a man on a red mountain bike grabbing women from behind as he rides through the area near the Santa Maria River Levee.

They are looking for a Hispanic man in his early 20s, about 5'7"-5'9", with a thin mustache. Police say he has been seen wearing dark pants and a hooded sweatshirt or hat.

Police say right now there is no definitive pattern for these assaults, so they are urging people to be extra cautious on the levee.

The Santa Maria River Levee is an eight mile stretch of trail popular with local joggers and cyclists.

"This guy kind of was on his bike, but he slowed down and walked his bike next to me," said local resident Rebecca Carey when we asked if she'd seen anyone suspicious lately.

"We were walking the dog in the morning and there was this man on a bike. It was a nice morning and he was hooded up with a jacket and a hoodie and he was coming around really slow," said local resident Gerardo Munoz.

Lt. Kim Graham with the Santa Maria Police Department says there have been eight assaults reported to police and all are very similar.

"He approaches and follows the victims a little and when they are in an area somewhat secluded or away from other people this guy is going up and slapping them on their rear end," said Lt. Kim Graham.

She says on Wednesday night the man exposed himself to a woman and attempted to grab her.

"We are getting much more concerned about this person's behavior and we want to catch him," said Lt. Graham.

She says the department believes there are more victims and urges them to come forward.

"We really want people to report these so we can get a pattern, maybe days of the week this is occurring, times of day, something that may help us arresting this person," said Lt. Graham.

She says if anyone is assaulted by this man to immediately call 911.

Police suggest you walk or jog with a partner whenever possible and be aware of your surroundings.

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